Summer can be a great time for high school students to taste college life, since they’re not constrained by their usual class schedules, and college campuses typically are more relaxed. Last week, six undergraduates from Harvard traveled to rural upstate New York to teach and mentor students at Beekmantown Middle School. The Harvard Young Leadership Program is a prime example of the impact that summer partnerships can have on how K-12 students think about their future.

“The Harvard students provided us with a lot of good information that we can use in future courses as well as negotiating, leadership and communication skills,” said 8th-grader Olivia Burgin, who hopes to attend Harvard one day.

Burgin and her classmates spent the week learning about leadership and how to use data, think analytically, communicate effectively, negotiate, networking, teamwork and about college life and the application process.

Beekmantown Principal Duffy Nelson brought the five-day intensive program to her school with the use of GEAR UP grant funds secured by CFES Brilliant Pathways as part of a federal grant it landed five years ago to work with schools across the North Country. “I knew they would get a lot of out this experience by having exposure to other people’s vast experiences like these mentors who have traveled all over the world,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity to bring an in-depth program taught by Harvard students to our community.”

Ryan Jung, a sophomore at Harvard who taught the same program in Vietnam a few weeks ago, said it has also been taught in India, Dubai, Indonesia, and Ghana, among other countries. Beekmantown was the first school in the U.S. to host the program.

Here are two more examples of how these summer experiences prepare students for higher education.

  • College Explore, a three-day residential program, gives rising juniors and seniors a chance to experience life on a college campus and receive guidance on going to college. CFES Scholars submit an online application that includes a personal statement and references. Students have attended a dozen different colleges, including Skidmore College, Roger Williams College, and Paul Smith’s College.
  • In late May, West Point offers a four-day, on-campus residential experience for middle-school students in which they fly drones, build robots, learn how to make sound waves, and have other hands-on STEM experiences while being mentored by cadets.